I have a love-hate relationship with leftovers. During a chaotic week, it’s nice to have a night when I don’t have to plan a meal and spend time cooking. It also nice to have a clean-the-fridge night, when dinner is served buffet style, and everyone gets to revisit his/her favorite meal from earlier in the week. Finally, some foods – like soups and stews – improve 2-3 days after they’re initially prepared.
However, I also hate leftover nights because I don’t get the opportunity to cook or try a new recipe. Cooking is often an outlet that allows me to distance myself from the stress of the day. Leftovers can also be monotonous and lead to a major case of the blahs. I still cringe when I think about my bachelor days; five straight days of eating chili coupled with dreary, bone-chilling February weather drove me to the verge of madness.
To avoid the leftover blues, I usually try to incorporate a new recipe into our leftover meals. For example, leftover burritos might be complemented by a fresh batch of pico de gallo, guacamole, or cilantro lime rice. A new twist makes the meal feel fresh.
Early this week we had chicken Parmesan, pasta, and steamed asparagus. With plenty of tomato sauce and pasta leftover, I knew later in the week parts of this meal would be revisited. To accompany the pasta and feed my desire to be in the kitchen, I decided to make a Food Court Bread Sticks, a recipe adapted from Marcy Goldman’s book The Best of Betterbaking.com. I prefer multigrain, crusty artisan breads or a focaccia with my pasta, but this recipe provides a nice soft and savory sponge to sop up any leftover sauce. This recipe is a hit with kids, and it’s a snap to prepare, making it the perfect complement for a weeknight meal.
Food Court Bread Sticks
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 to 2 cups bread flours
- 1/3 cup melted butter or olive oil
- Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- Parmesan cheese
Directions: (Note: The picture I posted is only half of the above recipe. I froze the rest of the dough for a later date. This is the third time I've made this recipe, and this batch of sticks wasn't as thick as my previous attempts. Typically, they'll be thicker. When I make this recipe again, I'll post new pictures.)
- Lightly coat a 7 by 11-inch brownie pan or similar pan with olive oil and set aside.
- Mix yeast and water. Let stand for five minutes to dissolve the yeast. Stir in the sugar, salt, oil, cornmeal, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, all-purpose flour, and 1 cup of the brad flours. Mix to a soft mass. Knead with the dough hook on the lowest speed of the mixer for 8 minutes, gradually adding more bread flour as required to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form the dough into a ball. Place in a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 30 to 45 minutes, or until almost doubled.
- Turn the dough out into the prepared pan and gently pat out to fill the pan. It should be about ½ inch thick. Lightly brush with oil and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Then let the dough rise for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the over to 425 degrees. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, brush with oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Using tongs, lift the dough onto a cutting board and using a pizza wheel cut into ½-inch wide strips.
- Serve and enjoy.